Before August ends, SpaceX will attempt to launch the SAOCOM 1B satellite attached to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is the second satellite of the SAOCOM 1 earth observation satellite system from Argentina’s space agency, CONAE.
The satellite will have a particular orbit called a sun-synchronous polar orbit, meaning that it will be synchronized to the Earth’s north or south pole and have a relative position to the Sun at all times. The launch will take place at Florida’s Space Coast.
CONAE’s satellite system was designed to help with disaster management, similar to NASA’s satellites. From its orbit, the satellites will be able to keep track of occurrences such as volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and earthquakes. They can also monitor farmlands for agricultural uses such as land management and planning. The Falcon 9 will also be carrying a smaller satellite, the GNOMES-1, which will provide radio data for weather forecasts and monitor the climate.
This launch will be unique because SAOCOM’s destination will be unlike other satellites that were launched into near-equatorial orbit, or being synchronized to Earth’s orbit and the equator. Polar orbits launch toward the north or south pole, which has not been safely done in the history of launches from Florida’s Space Coast. In 1960, the Thor Missile launch failed as it dropped debris over Cuba.
On the evening of August 30, Falcon 9 will attempt to follow the same trajectory from Florida to Cuba, then make its way to polar orbit. The team from SpaceX and the 45th Space Wing assures that there will be no falling debris on Cuban soil, gaining approval from the Eastern Range and U.S. Space Force.
SpaceX is also set to launch the Starlink mission to deliver 60 satellites into orbit. The satellites are tasked to provide high-speed broadband internet to Canada and the Northern United States, and will soon expand globally by next year. The constellation development project will offer internet speeds to compete with cable and fiber at speeds up to one gigabit per second. Starlink will also be responsible for helping keep space clean by reducing on-orbit debris as satellites deorbit.
Carrying 60 satellites is a heavy payload when flying, ‘so putting them directly into this orbit requires more vehicle performance and makes recovery more challenging,’ explained Jessica Anderson, a manufacturing engineer at SpaceX, during their previous launch. The Starlink satellites were then put into an elliptical orbit along with the company’s previous satellites.
SpaceX has already launched 180 satellites in three batches since last year. Although some astronomers had been concerned that the numerous satellites leave trails in space imaging or leave a certain brightness as mega-constellations, Patricia Cooper, vice president of the company’s satellite government affairs assured scientist that ‘SpaceX is absolutely committed to finding a way forward so our Starlink project doesn’t impede the value of the research you all are undertaking.’
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World news – US – SpaceX to Launch Satellites Into Polar Orbit & Continue the Starlink Mission